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Advice on Alaska

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1 hour ago, donaldsc said:

 

That is the problem w cruises to AK and also cruisetours.  They miss 95% of AK.  You really need to drive to really see AK.  And BTW, you can get to Ketchikan and Juneau by car.  You just put your car on one of the Alaska Marine Highway ferries and then you have your car in both Ketchikan and Juneau.  That is what we did.

 

DON

I'm thinking driving only scratches a bit more of the surface... a lot of country and very few roads, which is why Alaska boasts more private planes than any other state, in spite of the tiny population.  But as you state, the Alaska Marine Highway can get you to much of the coasts, including the Aleutians.  A bucket list trip for me will be Vancouver or Toronto to Prince Rupert by train, then a couple weeks hopping the various ferries.  

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2 hours ago, fishin' musician said:

I'm thinking driving only scratches a bit more of the surface... a lot of country and very few roads, which is why Alaska boasts more private planes than any other state, in spite of the tiny population.  But as you state, the Alaska Marine Highway can get you to much of the coasts, including the Aleutians.  A bucket list trip for me will be Vancouver or Toronto to Prince Rupert by train, then a couple weeks hopping the various ferries.  

 

No argument but at least you see a lot more than you will see on a cruise"tour".  We drove pretty much every road in AK including some that were not paved.  Counting driving to AK from Vegas and back to Vegas from Prince Rupert, we put 12,000 miles on the car.

 

DON

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6 hours ago, donaldsc said:

That is the problem w cruises to AK and also cruisetours.  They miss 95% of AK.  You really need to drive to really see AK.

 

You can't possibly drive to 95% of Alaska. There are no roads. You can't even get to a couple of the Alaska National Parks without a small plane.  Heck, you can't even get to the freaking Capital of Alaska by road. Juneau is the Capital and it can't be accessed by driving. We spent over 3 weeks in Alaska in our car towing our "big rig" which is a little teardrop trailer. It is impossible to reach Juneau by car. Heck, it is impossible to reach the vast majority of Alaska by car!

Edited by Thrak

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Regarding DIY touring....We went on the Coral to Alaska (Northbound)a few years ago. We went with 2 other couples. After disembarking in Whittier,  all 3 couples went  separate ways...my hubby and I rented a car in Anchorage and did a DIY tour for 10 days. The other 2 couples went on 2 different Princess land tours. it so happened that we all met up in Denali on the same day (coincidence for them , and we planned our trip to meet them) and took the NP bus into Eielson, a long but so worth it day, by the way.

 

In the end, both couples were mostly happy with their land cruises but when they  saw that we covered so much more territory with our car, they were a bit regretful because they were limited in what they could see and do.. The one thing they were happy with was that they didn't have to carry their own bags from lodging to lodging, which is a huge plus for most people, I get that. Case in point, when they were near Denali (the mountain) it was in clouds when they were there. we were able to stay another day in that area and see it in crystal clear skies.We even took a flight seeing tour over it ..also so worth it!

 

I think the point is that DIY touring is not for everybody. It is for people who want to be on their own free time, who want to stop to take a photo when they want to stop and take a photo, want to take a second trip into Denali and not be confined to a schedule. It takes a lot of planning but ohh, so worth it!

 

 

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On 3/7/2019 at 9:26 AM, marden1970 said:

My DH and I did this several years ago with HAL and I think it was definitely worth it.  For me the best part was the trip thru Denali.  We saw moose, bears and much more.  We started in Fairbanks, getting in a few days early and renting a car to explore.  The train rides from Fairbanks to Denali, then to Anchorage and then to Seward for the ship (the most scenic) were wonderful and relaxing.  The interior of the state is different from the Inside passage but beautiful in it's own way.  It is a little pricey but we put money away for several years so we could do it as my DH's retirement present.  I don't think you'll regret it if you go.

I agree  100%. The interior of Alaska is spectacular . Princess does an  excellent  job with its land paçkage.

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7 hours ago, Thrak said:

 

You can't possibly drive to 95% of Alaska. There are no roads. You can't even get to a couple of the Alaska National Parks without a small plane.  Heck, you can't even get to the freaking Capital of Alaska by road. Juneau is the Capital and it can't be accessed by driving. We spent over 3 weeks in Alaska in our car towing our "big rig" which is a little teardrop trailer. It is impossible to reach Juneau by car. Heck, it is impossible to reach the vast majority of Alaska by car!

 

I believe you can get to Juneau by car using the Alaska Marine Highway System.  I believe this was mentioned above.

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One of the problems with driving is one way rentals.

 

I thought about doing a one way rental (eg Anchorage to Seattle) however could not really find a way.  That is one of the main reasons we decided to book on Coral Princess for 2020 from Whittier to Vancouver.  Fly in a week to 10 days early to Anchorage and do that part by car, train, etc.

 

Booked Coral Princess because it seems to have a reasonable amount of outside deck space.

 

We live in the east so using our own car would not make sense, too long a trip.

 

If we could have afforded it would have done a National Geographic Lindblad for the southeast portion.

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5 hours ago, LB_NJ said:

we decided to book on Coral Princess for 2020 from Whittier to Vancouver.  Fly in a week to 10 days early to Anchorage and do that part by car, train, etc.

 

Booked Coral Princess because it seems to have a reasonable amount of outside deck space.

 

That is what I am doing this Summer.  I have relatives who live in Anchorage, I have booked a rental car, will be there for 10 days before embarking Coral Princess, and with my relatives guidance, I will use the car to do as much touring as I can within my time frame.  Coral Princess, from what my research has produced, ought to be a very good ship for outside deck space.  I am looking forward on sailing on her.

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On 3/7/2019 at 9:51 AM, FineAsFrogsHair said:

We are booked for our 2nd Alaska Cruise Tour on the Coral Princess Southbound.  I was resistant about booking Alaska, but my DW just wanted to go.  It's so great a trip, here we go again in mid-August!  Fairbanks is a wonderful town to spend some time in.  FountainHead Antique Auto Museum is worth finding, it's at 212 Wedgewood Drive.  Not only cars, but period fashion too.  Great staff on hand.  Look up Dinners Drive-ins and Dives... we went to the Cookie Jar and had a great brunch there.  The Natural museum is worth a walk through also.  Princess train rail through the interior was a great experience we are looking forward to also.  Doing the land portion first and the South Bound passage last is more restful IMHO.  Worth the price!  Have a great trip.

This is off subject but my DH's favorite say is Fine as Frogs Hair Split 4 Ways.

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We did a Princess cruise with land tour, and I would highly recommend that if you stay in Denali you make sure your tour has at least two nights at the lodge so you have a full day to explore Denali. Our tour took the bus from Whittier to Denali, and by the time we got there it was too late to go into the park. Our train left the next day before Noon, so again, there was not enough time to go into Denali, just the visitor's center and the short hike that was next to the visitor center. The Wilderness Lodge and surrounding area was beautiful, but we were really disappointed that we didn't get the chance to go explore Denali after so much traveling to and from, by far the biggest lesson learned on the voyage.


We did really enjoy the bus and train scenery, and I would highly recommend the train if you take a land tour. The other highlights of our trip were definitely Ketchikan, Skagway, and Glacier National Park.

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2 hours ago, rkacruiser said:

Coral Princess, from what my research has produced, ought to be a very good ship for outside deck space.  I am looking forward on sailing on her.

 

Coral Princess is the best ship for cruising Alaska! Fore and aft viewing decks on Baja and Caribe decks are very nice for Alaska (and also for Panama Canal). You have made an excellent choice.

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I think the plan to fly to Anchorage, DIY explore from there, and then either cruise to Vancouver or simply fly back home is a good one.

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John halls kiss alaska. If i ever spent money to go to alaska would use them  ALL included. Everything meal tour hotel. Locals do the tours not collage kids. He has been in alaska for 50 yrs. He has lots of tour shows in fla. He goes the full distance into denali All the way to kantishna. Not like the natural history tour does

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25 minutes ago, 58Piano said:

John halls kiss alaska. If i ever spent money to go to alaska would use them  ALL included. Everything meal tour hotel. Locals do the tours not collage kids. He has been in alaska for 50 yrs. He has lots of tour shows in fla. He goes the full distance into denali All the way to kantishna. Not like the natural history tour does

A friend went with them and was not impressed at all. They must advertise in every state.

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Why exactly were they disappointed? John hall lives in the villages fl. He has lots of tour shows. He makes it sound so good. But i dont have $12000 to do this. Like you see more wildlife. Meals paid for which are expensive in alaska

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Has anyone done the guided photography excursions to see the Northern Lights as one of their DIY adventures?  I'm doing the same southbound Coral Princess cruise in Aug 2020 and am looking to arrive up to a week before the sailing to see Anchorage.  I am only now starting the planning part and am feeling overwhelmed about the logistics.  The ship leaves out of Whittier which seems very secluded compared to Seward.  How to get from airport? Can I drop the rental off at Whittier where the ship leaves from? Are there one-way car rentals? Where to stay the night before the cruise ship leaves? I'm not even sure I need a pricey excursion to see the Northern Lights as I read Point Woronzof Park is where the locals go to view.  But the advice on the likelihood of seeing it is worth us not going out all hours of the night every night in hopes we do.  

Any help would be appreciated!

Thanks,

Josie 

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24 minutes ago, StrongMinded1 said:

Has anyone done the guided photography excursions to see the Northern Lights as one of their DIY adventures?  I'm doing the same southbound Coral Princess cruise in Aug 2020 and am looking to arrive up to a week before the sailing to see Anchorage.  I am only now starting the planning part and am feeling overwhelmed about the logistics.  The ship leaves out of Whittier which seems very secluded compared to Seward.  How to get from airport? Can I drop the rental off at Whittier where the ship leaves from? Are there one-way car rentals? Where to stay the night before the cruise ship leaves? I'm not even sure I need a pricey excursion to see the Northern Lights as I read Point Woronzof Park is where the locals go to view.  But the advice on the likelihood of seeing it is worth us not going out all hours of the night every night in hopes we do.  

Any help would be appreciated!

Thanks,

Josie 

Sorry to quote myself, but I couldn't figure out a way to edit my post.  I found answers to a bunch of my questions on this page: https://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=2863 .  But the Northern Lights or aurora borealis viewing and advice is something I can't find much about by querying these boards.  I find that odd as one would think that's on many bucket lists and in close proximity to seeing a Glacier or roaming Alaska! I guess I should start a new thread if I get no hits here.  

-Josie

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On 3/11/2019 at 4:41 PM, 58Piano said:

John halls kiss alaska. If i ever spent money to go to alaska would use them  ALL included. Everything meal tour hotel. Locals do the tours not collage kids. He has been in alaska for 50 yrs. He has lots of tour shows in fla. He goes the full distance into denali All the way to kantishna. Not like the natural history tour does

 

Huh?????

 

DON

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If you really want to find out about inland Alaska you might try Tipadvisor or Yelp or one of those boards.  Also there are some pretty decent websites about Alaska.

 

I think the other websites have an advantage over Cruisecritic for inland parts of trips.  I think I heard that TripAdvisor actually owns Cruisecritic.

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10 hours ago, StrongMinded1 said:

Has anyone done the guided photography excursions to see the Northern Lights as one of their DIY adventures?  I'm doing the same southbound Coral Princess cruise in Aug 2020 and am looking to arrive up to a week before the sailing to see Anchorage.  I am only now starting the planning part and am feeling overwhelmed about the logistics.  The ship leaves out of Whittier which seems very secluded compared to Seward.  How to get from airport? Can I drop the rental off at Whittier where the ship leaves from? Are there one-way car rentals? Where to stay the night before the cruise ship leaves? I'm not even sure I need a pricey excursion to see the Northern Lights as I read Point Woronzof Park is where the locals go to view.  But the advice on the likelihood of seeing it is worth us not going out all hours of the night every night in hopes we do.  

Any help would be appreciated!

Thanks,

Josie 

 

10 hours ago, StrongMinded1 said:

Sorry to quote myself, but I couldn't figure out a way to edit my post.  I found answers to a bunch of my questions on this page: https://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=2863 .  But the Northern Lights or aurora borealis viewing and advice is something I can't find much about by querying these boards.  I find that odd as one would think that's on many bucket lists and in close proximity to seeing a Glacier or roaming Alaska! I guess I should start a new thread if I get no hits here.  

-Josie

 

Whittier is actually much closer to Anchorage than Seward.  If you rent a car you will likely be returning it to the Anchorage airport.  From there you can take a shuttle bus to Whittier (Princess or other).  My thinking is that August (at least early August) may be too early for Northern Lights as it still stays light much of the night.  If Northern Lights are important consider taking one of the last Alaska cruises in mid-Sept.  Fairbanks and points north would provide more/better Northern Lights options than Anchorage.  Consider flying to Fairbanks, renting a car and returning it to Anchorage (spending a day or three in Denali on the way).  I do know that many Fairbanks hotels will wake you (if you want) when the Northern Lights make an appearance.

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You can see Northern Lights almost anywhere in Alaska. But further north they are more frequent. In saying that you may not see them at all. They come out when and where they want, winter is best and you have never seen anything so beautiful when they are really intense. So you may or may not see them.

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23 hours ago, KatieMac67 said:

 

KatieMac67, I agree with you wholeheartedly about the beauty.  The Northern lights are magnificent when the sky is dark and clear...of course, that usually would equate to very cold...and we saw them almost exclusively between Dec and early March.

Edited by USCcruisecrazy

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28 minutes ago, USCcruisecrazy said:

KatieMac67, I agree with you wholeheartedly about the beauty.  The Northern lights are magnificent when the sky is dark and clear...of course, that usually would equate to very cold...and we saw them almost exclusively between Dec and early March.

You are correct about that, but I have seen them almost every month of the year. We were traveling from Big Lake to Glennallen on the 4th or July really late at night when we got to the area of Sheep Mountain the sky was full of Northern Lights. We were the only car on the road that night and just stopped in the middle of the road to watch them for a few minutes. But you are right they are more plentiful and brighter in the winter. The colder and clearer the weather the better.

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On 3/12/2019 at 8:17 AM, 58Piano said:

Why exactly were they disappointed? John hall lives in the villages fl. He has lots of tour shows. He makes it sound so good. But i dont have $12000 to do this. Like you see more wildlife. Meals paid for which are expensive in alaska

They thought the tour was of poor quality compared to other tours they have been on. It had nothing to do with cost. They preferred Princess's tours.

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